Gathered in a small room, a group of 4th graders sat eager to get started learning about leadership. As I asked them what it meant to be a leader, the answers were as expected. A leader is someone who can talk in front of people. A leader is someone who has many followers. The giddy expressions soon changed as we dug a little deeper into the topic.
1. Look in God’s Word
How do you teach kids how to be a leader? A good start is found in Matthew 20. When discussing the topic of leadership, this is what Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In this moment, Jesus clearly and casually debunked the cultural definition of leadership. Leadership isn’t about gaining followers. It’s not about power, talents and abilities. Leadership is serving and it is a sacrifice. I’m sure the disciples were a little befuddled upon hearing this, and so were these 4th graders.
2. Think Like a Kid
Among adults, a good servant-leader strives for the success of those he leads. But how does this look for kids? To a child, a day that is jam-packed with fun has a stamp of success. From this came our definition for leadership. Being a leader means, “Making sure other kids are having more fun than yourself.” You’re on the playground and your friend wants to be the quarterback, what do you do? You let him. You are at church and a new kid walks through the door, what do you do? You befriend her. Your little brother wants to play with the toy you have, what do you do? You give it to him.
As kids learn how to lead selflessly, like Jesus intended us to, think about the type of parents, pastors, teachers, doctors and politicians they are becoming. In a self-centered world, they are learning to have others on the forefront of their minds…loving, sacrificing, caring and serving. Oh what a world this can be!
This article originally appeared here.